Grand Tours are great events. There are so many excellent wines to taste and many of the owners and winemakers are there to taste with and talk to. But a lot of the action also takes place before and after the main event. And one such event that was super-cool was a first growth dinner at Valentino restaurant at the Venetian in Las Vegas the Friday before the Grand Tour. Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines and the Wine Institute of Las Vegas organized the small event for about 60 people.
I didn’t expect to have to say anything during the dinner but I was kindly asked to comment on the wines served. So no problema. I started off saying that it was great to be at a first growth dinner where a number of superb bottles of first growths would be opened and consumed. Unfortunately, some people may get the impression that this doesn’t happen very often any more and the top wines of Bordeaux are more for investment or for billionaires, in light of the skyrocketing prices.
We started off with a 1999 Haut-Brion, which was a beauty, showing lots of spice, mineral and raspberry aromas and flavors. It was full-bodied with silky tannins and a long finish. It was just starting to drink well. I gave it 91 points, non-blind. What a good bottle, and it probably doesn’t sell for much more than its release price of about $150 a bottle. Compare that to the price for 2005 futures!
The 1996 Mouton-Rothschild followed and it showed a super sexy nose of roses, perfume, light earth and musk. It was full and super velvety on the palate. It was a wonderful bottle now, but I would give it another three to four years of bottle age. 96 points.
I was a little worried about trying the 2000 Margaux, Yes. I gave it 100 points. But the first growths are very tight right now from this vintage, and they need hours of decanting before drinking. (The wine, like others that night, was decanted about three hours in advance.) It’s a shame to drink them at this stage of their evolution, but I “suffered” through. It was a big, juicy and right wine but still maintained a lot in reserve. It’s powerful and super structured and continues to be perfect. Be happy if you have some in your cellar! But be patient!!
The Lafite 1989 was the last red in the dinner. What a bottle! I have never had such a top bottle of this wine from 1989. It showed decadent aromas of plums, raspberries, spices and blackberries with a floral undertone. It was full, rich and velvety with a long, long finish. Love it. 95 points.
The d’Yquem 1994 ended the meal and was a wonderful surprise. 1994 is not a serious Sauternes vintage and had very little noble rot to concentrate the wines. Nonetheless, the Yquem showed delicious sweet caramel, apple and honey aromas and flavors. It was full, medium sweet, round and delicious. 91 points.
I told the participants that the fact that 1994 Yquem was of excellent quality underscored what makes the first growths so special. They have great vineyards, or great terroir, so they can make excellent wines in not so excellent years. The most recent example is 2006.
Steven Balavender — Tampa, Fl — May 7, 2007 2:10pm ET
John W Graham Iii — Richmond VA — May 7, 2007 5:41pm ET
Quek Li Fei — Singapore — May 7, 2007 10:19pm ET
Daniel Grotto — May 8, 2007 10:02am ET
William Delaney — Arlington VA — May 10, 2007 11:26am ET
Daniel Grotto — May 10, 2007 3:51pm ET
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